The irony isn’t lost on me. And now that I’ve said that, it’s probably not lost on you either.
And everybody has an opinion about this mess it seems. Most of the opinions go like this:
- Those Covington boys are racist white supremacists and their Catholic school should be ashamed.
- That Native American, Nathan Phillips is a stolen valor liberal who was targeting defenseless teenagers.
- Now the real story is coming out. The wonderful Native Americans or Covington boys are not nearly as bad as the media has made them out to be, and the evil Native Americans or Covington boys are the real problem.
Chances are the opinion you take sides with is whoever you normally ally with in everything else. There’s nothing new in your opinion. It’s just as tribal as all your previous opinions.
And so, our public discourse goes on. And on. And on. And on.
What if, just what if, now hear me out on this one… these opinions about how evil, rotten and nasty the other side is, what if, they’re just plain wrong? What if in our current time, the great American disease isn’t family values, or wealthy vs. poverty, or evil liberals or evil conservatives or Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi, or Donald Trump, or any other number of boogieman culprits we like to blame things on. What if the Great American disease is actually trying to convince others of your own rightness, and the other person’s wrongness? And then we further cement our own rightness by surrounding ourselves in the echo chamber of people who agree with us. We watch our news channel and read the articles that tell us how right we are.
The chasm widens.
Now I watched a couple of different versions of the entire video. It looked to me like two opposing groups (Covington High school students and Hebrew Black Israelites) were throwing jarring insults at each other, pretty much started by the Hebrew Black Israelites, as they look to be a wee bit on the more extreme and bold side of life. Then comes a third group (the Native Americans) who were either trying to calm the situation or come to the boys’ aid, but because of a lack of cultural understandings just end up throwing some more wood on the fire. And then the media chimed in and threw some gas on it.
Seems simple enough to me. People disagreeing, throwing negatives towards each other. It’s a microcosm of American social media, save for there were no cat pictures at the protest. All that existed was explosive tribal identities. I would have rather had cat pictures.
I often hear the expression that America is a Christian Nation. Folks might say this for a myriad of reasons. It could be because of a belief that our original founding fathers were Christian, and hence, our nation is Christian (btw, our founding fathers weren’t actually that Christian). Or it could be because of the majority faith of people in the United States is Christianity, and that whole 1st Amendment thing doesn’t matter. Or it could be just because of peoples’ wishful dreaminess that we a Christian nation, and if everyone would just turn to Jesus more, our modern-day civil ills would just go away. I’m not very keen on any one of these reasons, but none of them are the reason why I believe that we are not a Christian nation. The reason why we are not a Christian nation is because we don’t act like it. One of the hallmarks of the teachings of Jesus is grace and forgiveness. And we are anything but a nation of grace and forgiveness. America really doesn’t believe in grace or forgiveness. America believes in scalding, doxing, and condemnation.
See, Jesus is really inconvenient sometimes. Whether it be that prayer Jesus tells us to pray (forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us), or how often he tells us we should forgive someone. In one place he says 77 times. In another place he says not 7 times, but 70 times 7. If you’re doing your math, that’s 490 times. We have a tough enough time even making it to one time, let alone 489 more times after that.
So, what about forgiveness?
- What about forgiving those Covington students? Who in about 20 years will probably deeply regret their actions? As if they don’t regret them already!
- What about forgiving those extreme Hebrew Black Israelite protestors, who, by the circumstances and families they were born into, forged them into being a bit different from you or I (or a lot different), and causing them to be on the shocking side and saying some rather untoward things?
- What about forgiveness for Nathan Phillips? Even though with all of the blame game fact finding, we don’t really know that he did anything awful or wrong. Regardless, what about forgiving him for the evil you yourself believe he is responsible for?
- What about forgiving the media? Who, because their occupation is dying and they are quick in the race to get publicity, are too quick on the gun?
Forgiveness and grace haven’t really surrounded the whole event on the mall. Nope. It’s all vitriol. It’s all poison intended for you to consume and spit back out. Forgiveness? Grace? Those things are soooooo 2,000 years ago. They are so out of style.
America is a participatory society. We love to participate in the stories of others. We join with our friends and dump on our enemies. We do this, because in our own heads, we too then get to be right. And the enemies of our friends? And the friends of our enemies? They’re wrong. And all the sudden, in our own heads, we’re great and awesome.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You could do something else. Something not so enticing or easy. Something far more powerful and uncool at the same time. You could forgive. You could forgive the Covington boys. Nathan Phillips. The Black Hebrew Israelites. Trump. Pelosi. The Democrats. The Republicans. The media. You could keep forgiveness going and forgive Colin Kaepernick, Black Lives Matter activists, cops who shoot people, people who shoot cops, trans people, people who hate trans people, and the list can go on, and on, and on. And while you’re at it you could go on a forgiveness roll and forgive others who have personally done you wrong – family members, friends, enemies. You could make forgiveness cool again, for like the first time in 2000 years. You know… like Jesus wants us to do.
It’s your call. It all really depends on what kind of world you want to live in. Do you want to live in a world where you’re right? Or do you want to live in a world with grace and peace.
I choose the later.
Smell ya later,